Once an enemy is lowered to 0 HP, are they dead or just knocked out? Do you have to reduce them to their negative Con score or is that mechanic strictly reserved for players?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.Stackexchange.com! Good first question, but keep in mind if you want strictly "Rules as Written" answers you should specify that. Please take a look at the About when you have a chance. \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 13:13

4 Answers 4


From RAW

When a creature’s hit points drop below 0, it becomes unconscious. When a creature’s hit points reach a negative total equal to its Constitution score, it dies. -- Core, page 12 under 'Hit points'

'Creature' would imply that the rules effect everyone.

Although there are some exceptions, such as Undead and Constructs

Not at risk of death from massive damage, but is immediately destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points -- Bestiary page 307 and 310 under Constructs and Undead traits

But from a GMing standpoint it won't make much difference to house-rule 'minions die at HP:0', unless your group likes to take prisoners.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It can certainly make a difference if your cleric is sloppy with her Selective Channel! \$\endgroup\$
    – ladenedge
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of the underlying challenges with this is actually identifying "knocked out" vs. "totally dead". Especially in the case of Cleric channels, but also with things that regenerate. I'm honestly still not clear about how PCs differentiate between the two or know that a regenerating creature is really done. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gates VP
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Generally all damage to regenerating creatures counts as non-lethal unless it's hit with a certain energy type (usually fire, but depends on the creature). Then the regeneration stops and it takes normal damage for a round. If you put this up as a question I'll try to explain it better and put citations in. \$\endgroup\$
    – Macona
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Macona That's how it worked in 3.5e, but it was changed in Pathfinder. In Pathfinder, regenerating creatures take lethal damage, but they don't die from going into the deep negatives unless they take at least a little damage from a source that suppresses their regeneration. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 5:45

All characters and enemies follow the same conditons rules.

The character's hit points are reduced to a negative amount equal to his Constitution score, his Constitution drops to 0, or he is killed outright by a spell or effect. The character's soul leaves his body. Dead characters cannot benefit from normal or magical healing, but they can be restored to life via magic. A dead body decays normally unless magically preserved, but magic that restores a dead character to life also restores the body either to full health or to its condition at the time of death (depending on the spell or device). Either way, resurrected characters need not worry about rigor mortis, decomposition, and other conditions that affect dead bodies.

But GM can considers monsters dead below 0 HP to be "dead". It's only really matter when you don't want to kill your enemy (ex: humain opponent)

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a DM, I typically just assume that something knocked to negatives but not killed outright is dead anyway unless the players say they want to try to take it alive, or if the enemies I've put against them have significant healing available. Finishing unconscious targets is easy enough that it's not worth the time at the table to have the players explicitly go around doing it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 13:44

Depends on the enemy. Undead "die" when they reach to 0 HP, summoned creatures vanish when they reach to 0 HP, etc. But most natural creatures (like humanoids) just fall unconscious when their HP goes below 0.

If the HP reaches exactly 0, then they are disabled. If a creature performs a standard action it takes one more point of damage. You can read more about this condition here.

Reducing a creature or a PC to zero CON score kills them immediately, it's not only reserved for players.


I tend to say "yes" when I run games. This is simply because some enemies, like Orcs, have traits or feats, like ferocity or Diehard, where they can continue fighting below 0 hp, though in a staggered state. If enemies just die at 0 hp, then the balance of your encounters gets thrown off a bit.


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